I sincerely believe one of the failures of the mainline churches is not taking religious education seriously for over a century. It is true that today more churches are taking advantage of excellent educational products provided by organizations like Living the Questions, publications and lectures by the Jesus Seminar and Westar and our own PC.org website and publications. Unfortunately they are probably too little, too late. Since most of these resources tend to focus on the deconstruction of the old Christian story, they are little more than a confirmation of what aging members of our congregations have suspected for decades. This new information may be interesting for them, but their children—and now grandchildren—who have never been committed to a community do not get it.read more
Preaching is a unique form of expression, probably more like a spoken op ed column than anything else. You get to speak, uninterrupted, for usually ten to twenty minutes, and it is your job to bring ancient scriptures alive in all their veiled, puzzling and even sometimes obnoxious voices. In the Episcopal and many other Christian denominations, there is a lectionary or schedule of selected Bible readings in a three year cycle. Each Sunday has its suggested texts, and you are to connect these readings with your own life and that of your hearers in a way that matters. A preacher must always face the “So what?” question about her work – why do people need to hear this? And finally, a sermon is supposed to be “good news” or Gospel in Christian terms. Underneath all that, at its best, our preaching should tell the truth about the way life really is, and where we all get caught, and how and why we need saving help. The task is daunting, and I love its fierce demands.read more
Preaching is, first of all, an act of the heart. In the biblical tradition, the heart is center of experience and decision-making. It embraces the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. It is embodied and incarnational as well as intellectual. Good preaching moves the preacher and congregation alike. The pastor dances with the text through his or her bodily movements as well as lively ideas. The goal of the sermon is not to provide a final destination, but as philosopher Alfred North Whitehead says, to invite congregants to be part of an “adventure of the spirit.”read more
Children will experience enough obstacles in life; there’s no reason to start them off with a sense of guilt, fear, and a lack of freedom to make their own choices.read more
When I was in the process of getting a master’s degree in sacred music, I had to take several classes offered at the theology school. One class, I don’t remember which one, assigned a paper entitled “Why Preach?” I really struggled with the assignment. As a future minister of music, preaching was not what I intended to do. As far as I was concerned, a preacher preached – that’s what church was – church on Sunday always included a sermon delivered by the minister. There was no alternative; each church service included preaching. The question, therefore, stumped me.read more
Although major New Testament figures–Jesus and Paul, Peter and James, Jesus’ mother Mary and Mary Magdalene–were Jews, living in a culture steeped in Jewish history, beliefs, and practices, there has never been an edition of the New Testament that addresses its Jewish background and the culture from which it grew–until now. In The Jewish Annotated New Testament, eminent experts under the general editorship of Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Z. Brettler put these writings back into the context of their original authors and audiences. And they explain how these writings have affected the relations of Jews and Christians over the past two thousand years.read more
The renowned biblical scholar, author of The Misunderstood Jew, and general editor forThe Jewish Annotated New Testament interweaves history and spiritual analysis to explore Jesus’ most popular teaching parables, exposing their misinterpretations and making them lively and relevant for modern readers.read more
This film explores some major concepts, but two of them are simple: places and spaces. Places are merely physical locations, with often no meaning attached to them. However, a simple, empty room can be formed into a space; turned into a place of meeting, creativity, innovation, and community. Places are often beautiful, awe-inspiring, breathtaking, but they only become spaces when we engage with them. When we experience beauty, peace, or joy from a place, our reflections and responses to the place are what create an experience, as well as the emotions that we feel.
Here’s the problem, when we reflect during an experience, or bring pre-conceived notions to an experience, we arent truly experiencing. Reflection must exclusively follow experience.
I shall argue in this essay that without the mind’s faculty of imagination there would be no philosophy, no art, no music, no mathematics, no science, no religions, and no freedom of choice; that the attempts of religions to limit its expression to habits of identity, aided by the atheistic belief, now common in secular societies, that it must be applied only to material discovery, is the cause of their conflict and religious terrorism; that the crisis in modern education is similarly caused and may be similarly resolved; that the natural function of this faculty is to find manifold ways for minds to communicate, as is demonstrated by its manifestations, as described above; finally, that it is not limited to human minds, for the history of philosophy, which is also the history of humankind, would not be as it is if this were true.read more
Marcus Borg, Brian McLaren, Diana Butler Bass and Others on Progressive Christianityread more
Through the lens of evolutionary Christianity, Sanguin works through moral, spiritual, and scientific issues raised in Mad Men, the writings of Richard Dawkins, tales from the Bible, and other stories that inform our views of the world. Sanguin’s reflections will revitalize your faith and leave you celebrating that you don’t need to sacrifice a rational, evidence-based worldview to be a person of faith in the twenty-first century.read more
Diana Butler Bass, one of contemporary Christianity’s leading trend-spotters, exposes how the failings of the church today are giving rise to a new “spiritual but not religious” movement. Using evidence from the latest national polls and from her own cutting-edge research, Bass, the visionary author of A People’s History of Christianity, continues the conversation began in books like Brian D. McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity and Harvey Cox’s The Future of Faith, examining the connections—and the divisions—between theology, practice, and community that Christians experience today. Bass’s clearly worded, powerful, and probing Christianity After Religion is required reading for anyone invested in the future of Christianity.read more